Nearly 859 whales and dolphins have been killed on the archipelago, 200 miles north of Scotland, so far this year for their meat and blubber.
Locals surround pods using speed boats then drive them towards shore where they are slaughtered using sharp lances, similar to a spear.
Dr Joanna Swabe, the senior director of public affairs at Humane Society International/Europe, said: “It’s time to end the gruesome grind. The mass and bloody slaughter of highly sentient pilot whales and dolphins is like something out of a horror movie.”
“The sea turns red with blood as these beautiful creatures have their spinal cord severed with a sharp lance. It’s been condemned by veterinarians, conservationists, governments around the world, as well as shocked tourists, and medical experts have raised human health concerns about potential mercury poisoning from consuming whale meat and blubber.”
“The scale of the suffering is hard to comprehend.” Speaking from Kill Bay Leynar on the Faroe Islands, Sea Shepherd volunteer Joanna Härmä said a hunt is incredibly dramatic to witness.
Joanna, who lives in Edinburgh, has spent two months documenting the practice.
She said: “When they’ve had their spinal cord cut, blood gushes out like a fountain and when the back of the neck is cut, the rest of the blood is just coming out into the water.
“By the end, tens if not hundreds of animals are on the beach and the water is deep red for quite a ways out “They’re lying in the blood of their family members and community members.”
The living whales are waiting themselves to be killed and at the end of it, they’re all dead together and the site is quite difficult to see.”
She described the stench as the “smell of death”. Campaigners have described the hunts as a “tragedy” for the island’s international reputation.
Scott Dixon, 53, saw the Express’s coverage of dolphin tagging in the Faroe Islands and messaged to say the brutality puts him off visiting the rugged isles.
The paper highlighted the bloodshed caused by the installation of GPS-tracking devices using power tools earlier this week.
Mr Dixon, a consumer rights expert from Edinburgh, said: “The Faroe Islands is somewhere I have hankered to visit from time to time as I have been to Shetland three times, which has some similarities.”
“One thing that has put me off visiting is the slaughtering of whales each year, and this cruelty to dolphins has reinforced my resolve never to visit at all.”
“Global warming will change the way people travel and choose holiday destinations, with many looking for somewhere different with a cooler climate.”
“The Faroe Islands have an allure for many people and tourism plays a big part in their economy. The Faroese Government and locals must stop this unnecessary cruelty.”
“Hopefully this coverage will bring an everlasting change for the better”. The Faroese are fiercely defensive of the hunt which is an important part of their culture and traditions. Whale meat and blubber remain a popular dish despite concerns about the high levels of mercury.
Luke McMillan, the head of hunting and captivity at Whale and Dolphin Conservation, said: “Faroese people don’t need to kill whales or dolphins to survive, and the meat itself is so contaminated with heavy metals that their own health authority warns against eating it more than once a month.
“The practice is damaging to the environment, killing whales and dolphins who are vital for the health of the ocean, for sustaining fish populations and even helping to fight against climate breakdown.
“And there is no humane way to kill whales and dolphins, especially in hunts that can last for hours and wipe out entire pods and families, with unimaginable suffering to these intelligent, sentient beings.
“Faroese people know the terrible toll these hunts have on the country’s international reputation, but of course they have as much right as anyone else to make their own decisions and not be told what to do by outsiders.
“The hunts will only end when Faroese people want them to, and we believe attitudes are changing.”
Marine conservationist and Sea Shepherd volunteer Sidney Haugen said the grind used to be more of a necessity for providing food historically than it is today.
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This article by Steph Spyro was first published by The Express on 1 September 2023. Lead Image: Campaigners on beach (Image: PR).